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Poor Man

A hypothermic freeze slowly spread itself over each ligament starting from my feet, sending shrill messages to my brain. But not a single muscle moved. Eyes wide open, mouth slightly parted, ears showing signs of tinnitus, I took a catch breath so deep and so fast the pain seemed to shatter for a second... then was pulled back together by some unknown force.
I tried to go back to sleep to escape the fire, but sleep was not found, nor would be… that would be too easy. My eyes began to burn from not blinking for so long, they now focused for the first time on my surroundings. White, everything was white, nothing moved, and nothing made a sound. I rolled onto my back, the pain had subsided and its return was unpredictable yet inevitable. The vaulted ceiling of the room was so black one could not tell exactly how far up it rose, only that one’s soul could make the journey upwards with little success, for after a while it would lose sight of which direction was upward and would be stuck, wandering around aimlessly. Almost as if it was falling out of the sky, a thick heavy black curtain hung down from the ceiling folding over on itself as it hit the floor against the farthest wall probably covering the only window in the whole room. At the foot of the curtain lay a wooden paintbrush sitting parallel to a paint pallet, which I retrieved with disheartened effort. I opened the pallet upon its retrieval, every single color was missing, leaving one full well of black. The black paint emanated smells that morphed into one another… crisp fall air to rotting lavender morphing into rich cedar and old leather, changing and morphing from one familiar scent to the next, sparking my interest.
Dull aches arose in the base of my skull, spreading up towards my crown. I tried to block out the source of the pain but was yet again unsuccessful. Lacking a formal canvas I pressed my wet brush to the white walls. My hand, as if moving on its own accord, began caressing the wall with thin lines not yet connected to have any substantial meaning. The pain from the base of my head shot around to my ears, the ringing beginning again, my eyes shut tight now, and, as I lifted my brush I was overwhelmed with the scent of saltwater and iron that stung the tip of my nose. I felt a falling sensation, but as if through water not air… the deeper one goes, the more pressure inflicted upon the body. My brush hit the wall as I fell forward onto it, suddenly alert, and I continued painting, this time with a sense of crazed avidity. Each brush stroke after another felt heavier yet elevated the sense of freedom as each strain and burden gradually lifted. Each brush stroke coincided with a release of breath, inhaling as I went back for another color of inspiration, only to find black. It was an ominous dance of sorts, melody lacking a beat, harmonies that were off by a note.
Comfort, often times, can be found in the silence and pain. Comfortable in terms of familiarity as a mindset, not the warmth of comfort. The heart can be tired but the mind seems to be able to run forever. It just needs a place to go.
I was sent back.

The torrential downpour covered the scene in an active wall of haze and the dim lights created glowing halos lining the sidewalks. The jagged cobblestone led the water in an unorganized fashion downwards towards a well trimmed lining of trees, separating the town from whatever lay beyond. Leaves were falling, mostly from the red ash trees lining the sidewalks, and fell to be carried away by the fast current. I followed quickly along the path created and met the lining of the woods, whatever heat was left in the air was drawn out and it began to snow. The soggy leaves failed to crunch under my step as I advanced into the wood not really knowing what direction I was going, whatever leaves were left on the trees blocked out the moonlight. I kept moving which way I thought was north until I came upon a clearing. Patches of snow blanketed the ground thick enough to cover the mire below. I began to claw the ground, fingers progressively turning numb each time a handful of dirt and snow were removed. Almost as if in a state of trance I dug at a steady fast pace, paranoia not yet setting in, until I uncovered the sarcophagus. I ran my hands over the opening and along the top, gliding over the rough stone and pressed my cheek upon the cold surface for only a moment then hurled the sarcophagus open. Her body showed no sign of decay I observed while I caressed her cold pale face with the back of my hand. Her emerald green eyes hid behind closed lids, her small nose drained of all color matching the rest of her exterior, and her scarlet red lips formed a smile that Leonardo da Vinci himself could not decipher. A dark purple cloak emanating the scent of delicate lavender, with gold and black accents, cocooned her frail body as if to preserve the warmth she once had. For the first time in ages I took an unrestrained breath and the full impact of the senses hit me full force as I gripped the stone to support my balance. The moment I gained full control my eyes were immediately drawn to her hand, which lay upon her stomach covering the other. Upon her finger, a ruby set in silver, beset a ring so fine that would even leave Queen Isabella amid her conquests, abashed upon laying sight of it. My thawing hands fumbled and tried to, with great care, remove the ring. There was no sign of movement towards the end of her finger and it seemed to be part of her. I looked up frantically as if the action itself would come up with a solution but the uneasiness and flaws of my surrounding magnified, I coiled in horror as I gracefully, in one swoop, cast her into my arms.
The brush seemed to be thicker than before, branches grazing my skin, each small cut freezing over before any loss of blood could be made. Fresh cuts on her body released a foul stale smell that joined with the lavender, my nose cringing on reflex. The frigid air stung which each great inhale leaving an iron taste in my mouth as thin layers of blood mixed with my saliva. Approaching the tree line again, I could make out the halos of light, subduing much fear and giving fire to my kindling excitement. I navigated through the town, cloaked by the rain and my own speed.
We ascended down the mahogany stairs into my bedroom quarters. The enormous stone fireplace burned a faint fire, creating a warm glow upon the blank red tapestries and rich leather furniture. In the middle of the room sat a large mahogany bed quilted in thick velvet and ivory satin. The room looked like no one had stepped foot in for decades, devoid of the thick layers of dust that should have been covering the room.
Delicately, I placed her upon the leather couch at the end of the bed, every inch of my body soaked and the stings of the cuts finally making their presence known. On her body, not a mark could be found, nor a drop of water detected. The tastes of iron and saltwater mixed as tears ran down my face, falling onto her pale cheeks. With one violent gesture, still staring at her closed eyes, I extracted the ring with such great force that upon its departure from her finger, flung my body backwards onto the cold stone floor. The sudden blow on the head left a ringing in my ears, which slowly faded as I ascended into darkness.
I depicted the images of my mind upon the wall. Fantastic horrors great enough to lull a hysterical man to sleep. Each wall being covered over and over with paint slowly turned a solid black, not a single spot lacking. Now smiling, I walked over to the curtain in the room and pulled it aside to let in light. Behind the curtain revealed just a wall, blacked out like the ones around it.
The world never to see my masterpiece.
I let sleep engulf me into more blackness, this one peaceful.

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